The Coming Year’s Events – all subject to confirmation

Please not that due to Government coronaviris outbreak restrictions these events are subject to confirmation.

Summer visits

All visits start at 2.00pm, except the all-day visit to Sheppey on 8 July, which begins at 10am, and timings for the rest of the day or of the afternoon and details of where to park will be given at the first church. There are two ways of applying for tickets.

If paying by cheque, please use the enclosed application form which is also available on the website.  A written confirmation will be given if you include a stamped addressed envelope otherwise acknowledgement will be by email or telephone. 

If paying by bank transfer, please make payment to Friends of Kent Churches, CAF Bank Sort code 40-52-40, Account number 00022279 and let Jill Rutland (jill.rutland@hotmail.co.uk/01732 843248) which visits you are paying for so you can be added to the list.

Wednesday 10 June: a visit to the area west of Maidstone led by Paul Britton tel 01732 365794. Tea will be provided at Ightham.

St Michael, Offham ME19 5NY stands next to Church Farm but otherwise alone in the fields about half a mile north of the village: it is an example of that common Kent phenomenon, a church serving a settlement which has moved elsewhere. The nave is early Norman, as may be the north tower; the chancel is of the 13th century. There was a south aisle which had been demolished by about 1330, so the village was already contracting at that early period. The church has a simple but very beautiful interior.  Parking is on the road outside the church and in the yard of Church Farm.

St George, Wrotham TN15 7AD is an imposing church standing in the middle of its village and above a small market place. There is work of every century from the 11th to the 17th, including a large east window brought after the war from St Alban, Wood Street, a blitzed Wren church in the City. There are good fittings and monuments; and no church in Kent has a better collection of Victorian stained glass. Parking is available in the village, especially in Bull Lane which runs east towards the A20.

St Peter, Ightham TN15 9JD stands just north of the village centre. The church, which has early Norman origins, has an attractive medley of textures in its ragstone and ironstone walls patched with brick. There are fine roofs, fittings and, especially, monuments to the Cawnes and Selbys of Ightham Mote. Two of the monuments are of outstanding quality.

Wednesday 8 July: a day-long visit to the Isle of Sheppey led by Amicia Oldfield tel 01795 886155/07791 183067. The first three churches will be visited in the morning, the fourth after lunch. You may wish to bring a picnic for lunch at Harty. If you wish to have lunch at the Ferry House Inn, Harty (www.ferryhouseinn.co.uk) please let Jill Rutland know when you book your place on the tour and add £10 per person to your ticket cost as a deposit. The inn will want menu choices and deposits by 24 June. So, Jill will circulate the menu by 12 June and ask you to confirm what you would like by 19 June. Note that tea is not being provided on this tour.

Holy Trinity, Queenborough ME11 5EP was founded very late – in 1366 when Edward III founded borough and castle as a defence against French raids – and is a modest building mostly of that date. There are some good fittings, especially the font decorated with a relief of the long-vanished castle. The churchyard is more crowded with 18th century monuments than any other in Kent. Parking is on the streets running beside the church on the north and south.

St Mary & St Sexburga, Minster in Sheppey ME12 2HE is a venerable foundation of 664 by St Sexburga, Jutish Queen of Kent. She became the first abbess of a nunnery here. The surviving church consists of the later Saxon nave of the nunnery alongside a 13th century parochial nave and chancel.

There is a fine series of medieval monuments. The late medieval monastic gatehouse survives west of the church.

All Saints, Eastchurch ME12 4BN is a large, symmetrical mid-15th century church built by Boxley Abbey, which owned the living. Its fine, panelled roofs are more Cheshire than Kent. It has a good 17th century pulpit, a spectacular rood screen right across the church and a good window by the Arts and Crafts designer Karl Parsons. The church has received repair grants from the Friends in recent years.  

St Thomas the Apostle, Harty ME12 4BQ must be the remotest church in Kent on its wonderful site overlooking the Swale estuary. It is a small building of great charm with an early Norman nave and 13th century appendages. There is a 14th century rood screen and a remarkable Flemish ‘kist’ or chest, carved with a lively jousting scene.

Tuesday 8 September:  a visit to churches between Maidstone and Ashford led by John Lumley tel 01233 756249. Tea will be provided at Pluckley.

St Nicholas, Boughton Malherbe ME17 1AP is a small church with a 14th century nave and aisle, a late medieval tower and a 19th century chancel. There are brasses and some good minor monuments. The most remarkable feature of the church must have been the O’Neale monument of 1663, a three-sided pyramid on lion feet which was dismantled in the 19th century: parts of it were re-used in the vestry floor. This is an opportunity to see a church which is normally locked. Parking is in the village street outside the church; an adjacent field may be available, in which cases signs will indicate where it is.

St James, Egerton TN27 9DJ on the edge of the Chart Hills overlooking the Weald. A 14th century church with a fine tower which, from the evidence of bequests, was building in the 1460s and 1470s. There are good roofs, some fittings and a fine recumbent effigy of a knight brought from the bombed church at Little Chart.

St Nicholas, Pluckley TN27 0QS a 13th and 14th century church with a late 15th century south chapel, prettily placed in a handsome village mostly built by the Derings of Surrenden. The church has good screens and brasses, some of them forgeries of about 1630 designed to display the lineage of Sir Edward Dering.  

Coach trip

Thursday 17 September:  a coach trip to St Mary, Saffron Walden and St Edmundsbury Cathedral.  The coach will leave M20 J11 Stop 24 Service Station (charge for parking) at 8.15am and the Mercure Hotel, Great Danes, Hollingbourne at 8.45am.

This tour takes in two of the most handsome towns in East Anglia. Saffron Walden in north-east Essex is the smaller but has much of interest, including many medieval buildings and a fine market square. There will be a tour of St Mary’s church, one of the largest churches in Essex, which sails above the rooftops and proclaims the wealth of the town in the late middle ages.  The church was lavishly rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries in a style close to that of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge: indeed, the same mason, John Wastell, was involved in both buildings. It has very fine roofs, glass and monuments, including one to Thomas Lord Audley, Lord Chancellor and founder of Magdalene College, Cambridge. There will be refreshments after the tour of the church.

Bury St Edmunds is a glorious place, with the ruins of one of England’s wealthiest medieval monasteries (from which two splendid gate towers survive intact) and two large parish churches, one of which became the cathedral of Suffolk in 1914. To the nave of that late medieval parish church has been added an entire cruciform eastern arm designed by the architect Stephen Dykes Bower, producing a light and most attractive interior. The crossing was crowned by a 150 foot high Gothic tower finished only in 2010 – perhaps the last flowering of the Gothic revival and an astonishing sight. We shall have a tour of the cathedral after lunch (which can be taken in the cathedral refectory or in the town).

We have arranged pick-ups at the places we used last year but if these prove difficult could you let us know and we will try to accommodate you.  The cost of the outing is £30 which includes the cost of the coach, tours of St Mary, Saffron Walden and St Edmundsbury Cathedral and light refreshments at the former.

Briggs Event

The Briggs Event is sponsored each year by the Friends to help the host church raise funds.  The Friends contribute to the cost of a lecturer and other associated costs of staging the event.  No church has arranged an event yet for 2020: any church interested in doing so should get in touch with me on pauljjbritton@live.co.uk or 01732 365794.

Date for your diary

Our autumn lecture will be on Wednesday 14 October and will be given by Jo Elders, Head of Buildings Strategy at the Church Buildings Council of the Church of England on the subject: How, for what and for whom should we keep our church buildings? Jo is leading the Church of England’s efforts to make its churches sustainable and will talk about the challenges of declining congregations, financing the repair of the Church of England’s 16,000 buildings and making churches more useful to their communities.